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The Witcher 3 Wandering in the Dark quest - how to explore and escape from the Elven Ruins

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The Witcher 3 Wandering in the Dark mission is one of the main quests in The Witcher 3, and has you teaming up with an old friend. To first start the quest, you’ll need to have completed Hunting a Witch, which is intertwined so deeply with this quest we’ll give a brief, spoilerific summary below. If you haven’t completed the previous quest, look away now.

In Hunting a Witch you’ll have met up with Keira Metz, a sorceress of the Lodge and an all-around cynical heroine that you can’t help but love. She’ll have told Geralt that an elven mage had visited her, asking her that if she saw an ‘ashen-haired woman’ in her neck of the woods to send the woman his way. Understandably, Geralt wants to meet up with the elf to find out more, opening up the quest Wandering in the Dark.

Go to the Elven Ruins with Keira

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If you don’t go with Keira, you’ll have to meet her at the elven ruins by travelling there. For that reason, we recommend that you stock up with everything you need before completing Hunting a Witch so you and Keira can teleport to the ruins as fast as possible.

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

If you don’t end up going with Keira straight away, here’s where the location is on the map.

Follow Keira inside

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Head on inside with Keira. The ruin is full of lots of different loot and herbs, so loot to your heart’s content!

  • If you haven’t already got it, we recommend having brewed the Cat potion as that’ll allow you to see in the dark instead of having to carry a torch everywhere like we did. It sucks. Don’t do it.

As you and Keira head inside, you’ll see something that’ll cause your blood to run cold. A cutscene showing that the Wild Hunt, the evil that is after Ciri, are here and they don’t seem keen to play by the same rules.

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Watch as they open up a portal and step through, leaving you and Keira to plan your next move. Which is to open up a portal of your own!

Follow / Do Not Follow Keira

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Watch as Keira opens up the portal, but as she’s doing so, make a decision: are you going to follow her through the portal? If you don’t, you’ll see Keira go through the portal, disappear and then hear her scream. The portal will then close, leaving you in the lurch.

  • If you do follow Keira through, you’ll be dropped in a separate room from her and must fight your way through drowners and foglets to get back where you were before. It’s only there that you can hear Keira call for help. However, extra loot and experience is never a bad thing.

Find Keira

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Regardless of where you are, you’ll have to use your Witcher senses in order to find where Keira is located. This can be found through the use of a red circle pulsing in the background. 

Follow where that red circle is. You’ll most likely come across some enemies while doing so, so make sure you’re on your guard.

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Keep following the circle until you start to hear Keira cry for help. She is located in a room that’s on the right to where the portal was originally cast, surrounded by a monster that will scare even the worst of enemies.

Kill the Rats and Destroy their Nests

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After having a giggle at Keira screaming about vermin she could obliterate with one snap of her fingers, get to work on these devilish monsters. After you’ve defeated them all, head up to higher ground where the rat nests are.

To get rid of the rat nests, we advise using a bomb or if you’d rather not use resources, using the Igni sign.

  • If you’re using bombs, make sure you equip the right ones. You can find this out by going to your inventory. Bombs that can destroy nests will say so in their description.

Once that’s done, Keira will give you a quick explanation on why the portal didn’t work. She’ll also demand that the both of you leave, as quick as possible, but Geralt obviously refuses.

Keira will be convinced no matter which dialogue option you pick, but if you want to romance her later on, maybe don’t be a total arse.

Explore the Elven Ruins Further

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After the conversation with Keira, head into the next room and you’ll discover what looks to be an illusion of some sort, or as Keira puts it, a morphotic projection.

  • A morphotic projection is just a fancy way of saying magical projector.

Keira will state that this projection shows the elf they are looking for. After listening to a brief warning, the elf will mention the name Zirael aka the elven word for Swallow.

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To Keira this will mean nothing, but Geralt, knowing Ciri so well, will know that this means the name of Ciri’s sword.

Once Geralt adds two and two together, you’ll discover that you’ll need to follow the symbols of swallows in order to make your way throughout the ruins.

Look for the Swallow Symbols

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You’ll arrive in a huge cavern, where you can see toxic gas and wraiths hovering everywhere. Unfortunately for you, you’ll need to cut your way through the wraiths, as well as get past the gas, in order to find the first swallow symbol.

  • If you have a torch, unequip it now as stepping into the gas clouds with a torch is a fast way to you getting blown up to smithereens. Instead, dispel the gas by using Igni. It’ll return, but at least you’ll have control over when to use the gas to your advantage.

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After fighting the first few wraiths, don’t venture any further. Instead turn east and walk in that direction until you come across a stalagmite with a symbol of a swallow on it. If you’re lost, equip the torch (away from the gas) and it should be easy. Keira will even comment if you’re near it, so just be equally patient and careful.

Head North and keep Exploring the Ruins

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Once you find that first swallow, head directly north from it and you’ll eventually come across an area where you’ll need to climb to get to higher ground. Do so, and Keira will follow you.

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You’ll eventually end up moving into a small corridor, keep going forwards until you can break off to the left. Once you enter the octangular room at the end of that corridor, you’ll find another projection of the elven mage.

Find Kelpie

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With this projection, the elven mage will give another clue that’s much more blunt than the last one: Find Kelpie.

Kelpie is Ciri’s horse, so like the swallow symbols, you’ll need to find a symbol in the shape of a horse.

  • There are other symbols in this room, such as a dog. Do not examine these symbols, as doing so will trigger an explosion that’ll send you flying or wraiths will appear that’ll resemble Geralt and Keira.

Ignore the symbols that are around you. Instead, turn your attention towards the octagonal hole in the middle of the room. Jump down into the water and right in front of you, you’ll see Kelpie.

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This is a good indication that you’ll have to head underwater. Do so, and follow the map until you hit a wall, then swim up to the surface.

  • If you don’t have the Cat potion, you’ll be doing the underground sequence in almost complete darkness. Use the map to make your way through the underwater tunnel as best as you can.

Once you’ve pulled yourself up from the water, keep going forward until you see another Kelpie symbol.

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With that found, examine it and you’ll hear Keira exclaim from further up the cavern that a passage has just opened back in the room you were originally in. Rejoin her and enter the new room.

Activate the Portal

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As you go through the new passage and into a new room, you’ll find a huge symbol of a swallow, a door outlined in chalk and another symbol of a swallow next to it.

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Examine the smaller swallow and it will activate the portal. Step through with Keira and you’ll be transported into another room. However, this time something is waiting for you.

Fight the Golem

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The moment you step into the new room, a Golem will activate as a defence mechanism, leaving you and Keira to fight it.

  • Golems are weak to Elemental oil and dimeritium bombs. Use those accordingly and you should be fine. For signs, we recommend using Quen rather than Axii, as Keira will often do most of the stunning for you.

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Once the golem is vanquished, look for the scaffolding and climb up it.

Chase after the Wild Hunt

As you continue down the passageway you’ll eventually reach a part where the pathway splits off into left and right. Go left, as the right will lead you into a trap where you’ll have to fight a gargoyle.

Going left will take you to yet another swallow portal. Examine it and you’ll be taken to the location where the Wild Hunt was before the portal mishap.

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Keep going forward and you’ll notice that a number of the elven mage’s sentries have been frozen solid by the Wild Hunt’s magic.

Keep going forward until you get to a room on the left. There, a cutscene will trigger. It will show Keira and Geralt arriving in a chamber, just in time to see that the Wild Hunt are opening up another portal.

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They’ll eventually leave, but not before one of them opens up a portal to The White Frost, a catastrophic winter that freezes everything it comes into contact with.

It’s up to you and Keira to close those portals and catch up to The Wild Hunt.

Protect Keira

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Keira puts up a protective shield for the both of you to stay under as you make your way to each opened portal. The only issue is this: Wild Hunt dogs keep appearing out of the portal, and are eager to put you both down.

  • No matter what you do, stay inside Keira’s shield. Going outside of it can mean certain death depending on your health.

Use Quen to give you more of a chance against the dogs. The portal will eventually close, and you’ll have to do the same for the last two portals.

Follow the Wild Hunt

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Once you’ve finished closing the portals and reassuring Keira, leave the chamber and have Keira open up a blocked passage. Make your way through the passageway, turn left and you’ll enter yet another chamber where a lone Wild Hunt warrior awaits you.

Fight Nithral

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Nithral is a powerful enemy, but his attacks are incredibly slow due to him having a two-handed weapon.  For this fight, we recommend ducking and weaving around him as best as you’re able to.

  • The best sign for this battle is Quen, as using Axii will only stun him for a second or two before Keira knocks him straight out of it. We love you Keira, but for god’s sake…

As for potions, we used Thunderbolt, which increases your attack power enough that when you dodge behind Nithral and attack you can take a huge chunk of his health away.

But don’t get too comfy, because halfway through the fight, Nithral will summon a protective bubble to heal himself. Even worse, he’ll call out more hounds of The Wild Hunt to keep you busy.

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Get rid of the hounds quick, as Nithral can heal himself up to full health depending on how long you take to dispatch the dogs.

  • Do not attack Nithral’s bubble. Doing so will cause Geralt to be thrown back and you’ll lose a chunk of health.

Once the dogs are dealt with, keep attacking Nithral until he’s finally deader than a doornail. Loot his corpse and look for more information in the chamber.

Listen to the Projection

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As you explore the chamber, you’ll come across another projection. He’ll tell Ciri to meet where they were last together, which leads to what Geralt believes to be a dead end.

But that’s not all he mentions: the witches of Crookback Bog are to be avoided, but considering that Ciri 'quarreled’ with a witch, they might be your best lead.

Look for a way out

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You’ll have to find a way out of the chamber by looking for clues. You’ll find them through using your Witcher senses, but neither of them are truly important apart from the wall at the end of the chamber.

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It turns out that the wall is an illusion, one that only the Eye of Nehaleni can dispel. Luckily, Keira just carries that charm around with her and gives you hers.

Use it on the door and follow through the chamber. At this point you can either say goodbye to Keira, or go with her to get her magic lamp. No, that’s not a euphemism. 

Either way, Wandering in the Dark concludes and your next quest is just around the corner.

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